Dunlap is home to Smitty’s Angels

Dale Smith (upper right) and his staff / Image via Roadtrippers.com

Dunlap is home to Smitty’s Angels

This piece is an excerpt from an article titled, "Deeply rooted: In tight-knit Iowa communities, people come together to battle a global pandemic," published on Roadtrippers.com in partnership with Travel Iowa. Smitty's Grocery is an IGIA member.

By AnnaMaria Stephens

All across Iowa, communities have discovered what a huge impact even a small action can make during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the small town of Dunlap (population 1,050), Smitty’s Grocery has long been a local fixture. And as the only grocery store around, the business couldn’t be any more essential. 

“We are what people call a mom-and-pop store,” says Dale Smith, who opened Smitty’s in 2001. “We’ve been told by our customers that we have the best hamburger around and we also do specialized cuts of ribeye sandwiches for the local tractor pull and Dunlap’s annual 4 County Fair. These are something you won’t soon forget after trying.”

Smith and his staff, who he calls “the best employees in town,” are no strangers to serving their neighbors. Every Christmas, they hold the free Marge Peterson Annual Christmas Dinner, named in honor of the woman who started Dunlap’s food pantry. Smitty’s is a drop-off spot for donations all year round. 

When COVID-19 first appeared in Iowa, Smitty’s immediately increased their sanitization efforts. “We’ve always gotten compliments about how clean and organized we are,” Smith says. “Customers liked that when they came in, they could smell bleach. When Health and Human Services called to make recommendations, we were already doing most of them.”

Smitty’s started offering curbside pickup for its customers and also launched a free grocery delivery program to serve Dunlap. Around 15 to 20 volunteers, dubbed “Smitty’s Angels,” continue to bring groceries to elderly and high-risk Dunlap residents who are unable to safely shop for themselves. 

In return, the community has supported Smitty’s right back. Paula Heffernan, who runs Heffernan’s Gold Slipper restaurant with her husband in Dunlap, sewed masks for the grocery store’s staff. Other locals pitched in with masks that were passed on to vulnerable customers. Most importantly, everyone in town has been mindful of keeping each other safe as they move forward.

And that’s not uncommon across Iowa—from the smallest towns to the biggest cities, especially as restrictions lift and life returns somewhat to normal. It’s abundantly clear that everyone’s in this together. 


Source: Roadtrippers Magazine